She Sells Sanctuary

Album: Love (1985)
Charted: 15


  • Ian Astbury, frontman of The Cult: "What's the song about? Sex. Plain and simple, it's about sex. I've had sex and I'm very proud of that fact."
  • Billy Duffy of The Cult talks about how his quasi-psychedelic guitar intro came about: "I found a violin bow, and I started to play the guitar with the bow like Jimmy Page. I did it to amuse Astbury, who was in the control room, and in order to make it sound weirder, I just hit every pedal I had on the pedal board. Then once I stopped banging the strings and doing all that, I played the middle section of the song, which was kind of a pick thing with all the BOSS pedals on, and that sound just leaped out. The producer went, 'Hold it, hold it, that's great!' And we decided to start the song with that mystical sound. If I hadn't found that violin bow laying around, we wouldn't have gone there." (from Roland's website)
  • "She Sells Sanctuary" was the last song to feature Nigel Preston on drums. Preston was fired from the band shortly after its release and was replaced by Big Country's drummer, Mark Brzezicki.
  • In 1993, a collection of remixes of this song by Youth, Butch Vig and JG Thilwell reached #15 in the UK.
  • This song featured in the 1992 film, With Honors and in the 2004 film, Layer Cake.
  • This formed part of a mashup with Flo Rida's "Good Feeling" in a Budweiser commercial broadcast during the 2012 Super Bowl. The one-minute ad celebrates several decades of great times in the US, beginning at the end of Prohibition in 1933.

Comments: 16

  • Lige from The OzarksMakes me drive fast!
  • AnonymousThe song is about old Love and new love. The old love, the wordly love, that talks s--t to everyone behind your back and you can feel it....and then the new love that makes you feel like nothing else the world could offer, the love that is different from the world, the love that keeps you alive and makes you feel safe, you have finally found your Sanctuary
  • Walking from DcProstitution. It's gotta be about prostitution.
  • Birdman_euston from London, UkKen and Megan, you're both right. Billy Duffy on his website says Nigel *was* drunk for the recording session *and* missed the video shoot due to his arrest earlier that day! RIP Nigel Preston, who died of a drug overdose in 1992.
  • Sklawz from Wilkesbarre Pennsylvania UsaThe lyrics are "Oh those heads that turn...
    "Make my back burn..."
    "And those heads that turn."
    "Make my back burn..."
    Oh the Texas sun
    Make my back burn
    Oh the Texas sun
    Make my back burn.
  • Ken from Boston, MaNO, No, No, the story behind the drumming on this track is this (according to "Behind the Music") Nigel was the drummer for the "Love" album, when it came time to shoot the Sanctuary video, Nigel was arrested and in jail, so the drummer for big country simply sat in for the video shoot !
  • Megan from Edmonton, AbDuring the recording of this song, the drummer was so drunk, the rest of his bandmates had to continue to take away pieces of the drumset, to make it easier to play. The drummer was so wasted he could only play the simple drum beats included in this song. Still, the song is awesome. :)
  • Baddfingerz from Tucson, AzYeah it's awesome! But Roland only described what happened in the studio, the origin of the music itself;No one has offered up an explanation for the lyrics, and that is this site's primary purpose: for us to interpret and explain what these songs are about.

    It is fascinating and even eye-opening, what fans describe as the "meanings" of these songs that we dig. Some offer up their interpretations as if they are facts. Others share information because they are or are believed to be facts; knowledge that comes from the testimonies of the artists, their freinds, insiders who "know" where the lyrics came from. Still others look at the songs that seemingly spell out the meanings in plain english, the apparent intentions of the artists for the listener.

    If you ask a lot of songwriters how they came up with their some of their best material, they will not even be able to explain some of it.

    That's just one more thing I LOVE about music; it really comes down to what each of believes or wants to believe about our favorite tunes. No one can challenge the validity of someone else's musical experiences; sometimes everyone is right, even if their views are contradictory!

    Now, must go and jam some tracks off of Sonic Temple or Ceremony...
  • Jan from Amsterdam, NetherlandsIndeed, Mark B of Big Country was the drummer on the love album but not on "she sells sanctuary""
    although he (Mark B) was drumming in the video of this beatiful song
  • Skip from Mandeville, LaWhat is this place, the Wiki of music? Nigel Preston was the drummer on Sanctuary. Dammit, get yer facts straight if you're gonna be a source of information.
  • Investigationdave from Atlanta, GaYou are correct Cleveland, Ohio. 'She Sells Sanctuary' is the best song that The Cult has ever produced. It is a factoid.
  • Scott from West Palm Beach, FlThe Cult took home the best new artist of the year award for the release of L*O*V*E ... way cool! Excellent and fresh sound at the time of it's release. At that time (1986) I played the tape (yes cassette) out and had to buy another. I love Sea Shells Actually (go ahead, say She Sells Sanctuary 10 times fast ;) ). The song Nirvana is what tuned me into The Cult, but after buying the tape I aquired new favs: Pheonix for it's utterly ripping 60's psychedelic guitaring that will never get old and Revolution for it's beautiful and melodic rythms and the upbeat feeling portrayed within (makes you want to raise your hands and look to the sky on a beautiful cold day). Eh, but whatever ... the entire recording of L*O*V*E is totally rockin!!
  • Chelsea from Wichita, KsNot trying to make this song sound weak and dumb but I actually find it pretty,it's kind of cute sounding in a way,like melody wise.But I really love the song,I really love The Cult too,they're amazing.
  • Theo from Johannesburg, South AfricaThis song also featured in the movie "Layer Cake" starring Daniel Craig and Sienna Miller
  • Bubba Zanetti from Austin, TxThis is one of the hardest rockin songs out there. Whenever I need to get that roid rage feeling I play this beast.
  • Grayson from Cleveland, Ohi believe this is the best Cult song.
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